Shell Shaker Questions and Answers
by LeAnne Howe

Start Your Free Trial

What is a summary of Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe?

Shell Shaker is about prejudice, brave women, violence, and sacrifice. In 1738, Shakbatina sacrifices herself to save her daughter after she kills someone. In 1991, Susan Billy tries to sacrifice herself to save her daughter after she might have killed someone. The novel also deals with spirits, the oppression of indigenous people, and the corruptibility of tribal leaders.

Expert Answers info

Seth Oelbaum, M.F.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseEditor, Professional Writer

bookB.A. from Columbia College Chicago

bookM.F.A. from University of Notre Dame


calendarEducator since 2020

write796 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Law and Politics, and Social Sciences

If you’ve started to read the book, you might have already noticed that it starts with a Choctaw woman performing a rite so that her husband won’t be harmed in an upcoming conflict. The ritual is quite demanding. The woman fastens turtle shells around her ankles and dances around a fire until the surrounding ground is steeped in her blood. Some spirits notice the woman’s sacrifice and make her wish come true: her tribe will have some peace and harmony.

Then a nefarious spirit named Osano appears to infect the important Choctaw warrior Red Shoes. His misdeeds cause his wife, Anoleta, to kill a Chickasaw woman. Now it’s time for Anoleta mom, Shakbatina, to sacrifice herself. As Shakbatina states, “I will sacrifice myself, knowing that peace will follow between our two tribes.”

All of the above took place in 1738. What happens next takes place more recently in 1991. There’s quite a few similarities. A daughter supposedly kills someone and the mom tries to sacrifice herself to...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 806 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Adah Rubens eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write661 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

profria eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write118 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and Law and Politics

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

morrowl16 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write35 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial